Some 102 years ago, the United States was under the stranglehold of the Spanish Flu. When the Spanish Flu of 1918 hit America’s shores, Calvin Coolidge was president; an almost equally incompetent and feckless president as Donald Trump. The Spanish Flu had a very high mortality rate and many deaths could have been saved had there been a safety net in place at that time. People would not have had to go out to scrape out a living to afford their rents in housing that was tantamount to a tenement. Fast forward to today and not much has changed. Tenement housing still exists in the inner-cities of America and there is still no affordable healthcare for the working class.
Just like in Calvin Coolidge’s day, Donald Trump failed miserably to take any action to try to stem the tide of the pandemic that we are currently facing, COVID19. Back when he had the chance to do something, Trump was more interested in protecting his family’s and friends’ business interests than protecting human life. In fact, Trump infamously referred to COVID 19 as a hoax and derided it as fake news aimed at discrediting his presidency by the “liberal” media, Democrats, and anti-Trump conservatives. Instead of showing any concern for the safety and security of America, he sold it out, just as Coolidge had done 102 years earlier.
Those that cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.George Santayana
And now fully 20% of Americans support re-opening the country on May 1st which is well before COVID19 has even been remotely contained. As if this is not enough, just like in the Spanish Flu epidemic, we are hearing crazy schemes from our president like injesting cleaning chemicals to kill the virus. In no twist of irony, these methods are more likely to kill you than the virus. Injesting bleach is a guaranteed way to die. During the influenza outbreak of 1918 and its subsequent deadly 2nd and 3rd waves, snake oil salesman were coming out of the woodwork to tout their cure for the pandemic.
If we reopen the country to soon, we risk the same 2nd and 3rd wave of COVID19. By that time, history will have fully repeated itself because we Americans tend to have incredibly short attention spans and even less of a penchant for learning. The experts have warned us for years that it is a matter of if not when, the next pandemic will strike. They have noted that it would be even swifter and more severe due to the globalization of the world. In a mere 24 hours, one can be on the other side of the planet so a deadly virus can spread that much faster. Travel used to take days, if not weeks, by steamship. During those days, containment would have been easier if it were not for the bitter incompetence.
Now is not the time to re-open the country. Now is the time to pass legislation aimed at creating safety nets. We need a universal basic income with guaranteed healthcare as a basic human right. If we moved in this direction, at least we will have learned something from the previous two pandemic mistakes we made. But I am not optimistic that the scale has been tipped in that direction enough just yet.